Comments on: Round the Galleries: Williams, Judd, Andre, Morris Abstract Critical is a not-for profit company aiming to establish a new critical context for all generations of artists involved with ambitious abstract art. Sun, 09 Nov 2014 17:23:33 +0000 hourly 1 By: John Bunker Thu, 25 Jul 2013 20:33:31 +0000 This piece made me reflect on some of the issues that have come up on AbCrit in relation to notions of formalism. Sam’s insightful thoughts on the ‘formalism’ at play or being played with by Sarah Morris reminded me of Robin’s passionate questioning of Caro’s legacy and in one later comment- Robin’s refutation of the label ‘formalist’ that had been applied to his own writing. I was intrigued by Robin’s use of the term ‘realist’ and the calling up of the great Corbet. I know that the unpacking of such a term would be a delicate operation in relation to abstract sculpture or painting for that matter but I for one would love to be at that table when the scalpel is raised!

Some ghosts of these ideas come up in a very early piece for this site called ‘Rock and a Hard Place’ (an email conversation between Robin and myself a couple of years back). Robin’s clear and insightful thinking shines through here compared to my rather confused ramblings (no change there then….) It skirts around the issue of the role of formal invention in making work, and how it sits in relation to the way art has gone since the 70s.

By: Robin Greenwood Thu, 25 Jul 2013 19:18:22 +0000 What a delightful old thing original minimal art is. The real thing, I mean: Judd, Morris (Robert, not Sarah), Andre. It’s just so… cute! I mean, look at that cuddly orange thing six photos down. A ‘simple’ shape, but the devil of a thing to make; and how it’s made is completely apparent and all the better for it. It’s painted tin, all the better too for being bashed around a bit since 1964 and having a few corners knocked off. Like I say, cute, like a kiddies plaything; it intrigues for all of… ooh, half a minute.

In the rest of the Judd show you can allay boredom by trying to work out how the hell things that seem to be so perfect were put together – glue, screws, hidden fixings, magnets? Who knows? This amuses no end. The sheer amount of technical work and planning that goes into producing something like this is out of all proportion to the results, which are so short-lived as to be hardly worth breaking sweat for. I know, because it’s where I started as a sculpture student, trying to emulate this degree of cool. I have the remnants of nostalgia for the (supposed) simplicity of it all. It seemed such a good idea at the time, going for ‘fundamental’ forms.

Finally, you can go round spotting all the millimetre discrepancies that completely ruin the perfection. To imagine that you could get away with this stuff in the world of the visual, where people pick up on the merest nuance! Those Plexiglas panels are buckling in a rather ugly manner in untitled 1965! There are little dints in that vertical wall-piece!! And what about those dozen bolts holding together the blue, wall-mounted Untitled (Lascaux 89-59); far from being discreet, they just run riot. Havoc, mayhem, anarchy!!!!

Actually, for design artefacts and architecture, minimalism probably is a good idea (though perhaps architects wouldn’t think so?), but not for sculpture. For sculpture, it’s just too boring. I do actually rate Judd as a very good architect. Maybe architecture can afford to be boring because interesting things happen in it.

By: Peter Reginato Thu, 25 Jul 2013 15:52:45 +0000 “but really isn’t that just a cop-out?”….Sam…YES